Jan Tschichold, Designer: The Penguin Years

By:
Prof Richard Doubleday
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Most historians and students of graphic design are familiar with Jan Tschichold’s Bauhaus period but not with his classical book designs for Penguin Books. It was during his tenure at Penguin, from 1947 to 1949, that Tschichold became the first typographer to effectively supervise and design books for large-scale production. Penguin hired Tschichold to standardize its composition rules and redesign its books for mass production, and the result was that Tschichold revolutionized traditional typographic principles and initiated a rebirth of classical book design and Typography. In this way, Tschichold stood apart from his contemporaries: he utilized his early training in calligraphy and classical alphabets. Tschichold was the first designer at Penguin to separate the profession of graphic designer from production editor. His prudent planning, inflexible control, and exhaustive instructions to compositors and printers led to superior book production. I was surprised to learn that there has yet to be a detailed investigation of Tschichold’s tenure at Penguin and his adherence to the tenets of classical typography and its application to the mass production of books. I recently wrote a short account of Tschichold’s work at Penguin, which was published in Print’s European Design Annual, May/June 2005; Baseline, International Typographic Magazine, Kent, United Kingdom, April 2006; and IDEA, International Graphic Art and Typography Magazine, Tokyo, Japan, November 2006. A more detailed account is found in my recent book, Jan Tschichold, Designer: The Penguin Years, published by Oak Knoll Press USA and Lund Humphries, UK in the Fall of 2006.


Keywords: Tschichold, Penguin, Visual, Narrative
Stream: Books, Writing and Reading, Publishing
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
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Prof Richard Doubleday

Assistant Professor, Department of Graphic Design
School of Visual Arts
College of Fine Art, Boston University

Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Richard B. Doubleday is an Assistant Professor of Art in the department of graphic design at Boston University and teaches the course Graphic Design in Britain annually
in London. He is an award-winning designer and has exhibited his posters at the Seventh International Poster Triennial in Toyama, Japan, and at the Galeria Artis, Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana, México - Maestro Del Diseno Grafico, Richard B Doubleday USA. He was a contributing writer for the 4th edition of Meggs’ History of Graphic Design, and editorial advisory board member for the 5th edition, and recently authored the book Jan Tschichold, Designer: The Penguin Years, Oak Knoll Press, USA and Lund Humphries, UK. His writings on design history have been published in Baseline, IDEA and Print magazines. He is currently investigating the graphic arts journals of the Shenval Press: Typography, Alphabet & Image, Image and Motif and is curating a major international poster exhibition, The Post-Modernist Poster.

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